By Nadia Turner

Why every drop counts – We need to collect 700 units of blood every day in order to meet the needs of patients in the province. Without this donated blood thousands of people would not survive. Approximately 0.96% of the Western Cape population are active blood donors, and ideally, we want 1 – 2% of the population to be active donors. This makes it very difficult to meet the demand for a safe and sustainable blood supply at times. Winter months are especially challenging with many of our regular donors suffering from colds and flu, students writing exams and families taking advantage of the school holidays and going out of town.

We are continuously working to increase our donor base, especially our youth donors in order to ensure that there is a viable blood supply in the future. Every unit of donated blood is precious and can be used to save the lives of three people. Blood is processed and used in many different ways to treat several illnesses and medical emergencies. The blood is separated into red cells, plasma and platelets and in this way provides a lifeline for those whose survival relies on it.

Blood components: plasma, platelets, red blood cells

Red blood cells are used to replace blood loss due to accidents, trauma, childbirth and surgery. They are also essential in the treatment of certain kinds of anaemia linked to cancer and rheumatoid arthritis as well as sickle cell anaemia. Plasma and various plasma products are used as a source for clotting factors, the replacement of blood volume and to treat severe shock, burns and blood loss. Read more about the power of plasma here.  Platelets help blood clot and are used in the treatment of patients with bone marrow production problems and in the treatment of leukaemia. Read more about how blood donations help aid cancer patients fight the battle.

All blood types are needed to ensure that the blood stocks in the Western Cape remain at a 5-day stock level for all groups. So, when you make your next donation, remember every drop of this precious gift counts and will be used to improve the lives of both patients and their families. To see how every drop counts for all Blood Services feel free to view here.